‘Urban Myths’ Episode With Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson Canceled After Backlash

The controversial Urban Myths episode featuring Joseph Fiennes as the late Michael Jackson has been canceled following backlash from the music icon’s family.

The episode, titled “Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon,” featured the story of an alleged road trip out of NYC that the “Thriller” singer took with close friends Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The first trailer was released on January 10, and sparked major outrage that a white actor was playing the African American artist.

Joseph Fiennes Playing Michael Jackson in Urban Myths
Joseph Fiennes Playing Michael Jackson in 'Urban Myths'. Sky Arts

Sky Arts network announced in a series of tweets on Friday, January 13, that they had decided to pull the plug on that particular episode of the eight-part series that re-creates rumored stories about Hollywood stars. “We have taken the decision not to broadcast Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, a 30min episode from the Sky Arts Urban Myths,” the statement said. "This decision was taken in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson’s immediate family. We set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events & never intended to cause any offence. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.”

As previously reported, Jackson’s daughter, Paris, took to Twitter on Wednesday to blast the episode. “I’m so incredibly offended by it, as I’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit,” she wrote. “It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother liz as well.

Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson and Joseph Fiennes Getty Images

“Where is the respect? They worked through blood sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies,” the 18-year-old continued. “Shameful portrayal. … He made a point of it plenty of times to express his pride in his roots. He would never have wanted this.”

The King of Pop’s nephew Taj “TJ” Jackson voiced a similar opinion, tweeting, “Unfortunately this is what my family has to deal with. No words could express the blatant disrespect."

Back in January 2016, Fiennes, 46, said he was surprised by the decision to cast him for the role. “I’m a white, middle-class guy from London. I’m as shocked as you may,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “[Jackson] definitely had an issue — a pigmentation issue — and that’s something I do believe. He was probably closer to my color than his original color.” 

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